Why Get a PsyD in School Psychology?

As the US population is getting older and the healthcare system more advanced, more Americans want to take advantage of healthcare services to live happier and more productive lives. This means there is a higher demand for all types of healthcare services, including the services that psychologists provide.

Overall, the employment of psychologists will grow by 14% by 2028, much faster than average when compared to other occupations. Employment of school, clinical, and counseling psychologists will increase because of the higher demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, social service agencies, and mental health centers. (BLS.gov)

Specifically, demand for school psychologists will grow because of a better understanding of the connection between mental health and learning. Students who are in a good mental state behave better in school, learn more, and achieve higher state test scores, which sets them up for more educational and career opportunities in life. School psychologists are needed to work with students, especially those with special needs, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems.

Schools rely more today on school psychologists to counsel and assess students. Also, school psychologists are needed to investigate how factors inside and outside of school affect how children learn. Once these factors are understood, administrators and teachers can use them to make education better.

The higher demand for school psychologists makes earning your Psy.D., in School Psychology a good choice.

What Is School Psychology?

The American Psychological Association states that school psychology is the general practice of psychology that is focused on the science and practice of psychology with youth, children, families, learners of all ages, as well as the schooling process. The education and training of school psychologists with a Psy.D. in School Psychology prepare them to provide important aspects of the discipline, including diagnosis, assessment, intervention, prevention, health promotion, and program development. (APA.org)

School psychologists are taught to intervene with both individuals and the system, and develop, implement, and evaluate preventative school psychology programs. They also conduct valid assessments and work to promote a positive learning environment where youth and children from many backgrounds all have access to solid educational and psychological services that encourage healthy development.

Key aspects of being a school psychologist are:

  • Understanding effective instructional processes
  • Understanding classroom and school environments
  • Being able to apply learning principles to the development of competence inside and outside the school
  • Work with educators and other professionals related to affective, cognitive, social and behavioral performance
  • Coordinate psychological, educational and behavioral health services by working at the intersection of these systems

There are many excellent reasons to earn your Psy.D. in School Psychology. Here are six of them.

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Strong Job Prospects

The United States has seen a school psychologist shortage for years, so you can expect a high job placement rate after you earn your Psy.D., According to a recent report, more than 99% of school psychology graduates locate a job within a year. The entire United States needs more school psychologists, but the need is even more acute in the northwest and Rocky Mountain parts of the country.

US News and World Report has ranked the school psychology occupation as one of the Best 100 Jobs of 2019 as well as one of the best social services jobs. Also, culturally and linguistically diverse school psychologists are really needed as the school psychology profession understands that the field does not currently reflect the demographics of the student population. (Psychlearningcurve.org)

Also, it is reported that many current school psychologists will retire in the next decade, which will open the door for new generations of school psychologists.

Seeing Children Make Positive Life Changes

Many school psychologists report that it provides great job satisfaction to see a child with what seems to be a bleak future, change and get on a successful path. Some school psychologists have seen children who had such severe behavioral problems that there were going to be sent to a more restrictive school environment. In some cases, interventions with school psychologists are very effective and can improve the student’s behavior so he or she can stay in their home school. There have been reports of students who were in the office every day because of behavior problems that later got straight A’s after intervention by the school psychologist. (Schoolpsychologistfiles.com)

Strong Salary Potential

As the demand for school psychologists is on the rise, salaries are also increasing. Payscale.com reports the average salary for school psychologists is $60,500, with a range between $44,000 and $89,000. (Payscale.com)

Payscale.com also reports that school psychologists see a strong salary increase with experience:

  • One to four years of experience: $56,000
  • Five to nine years of experience: $62,600
  • 10 to 19 years of experience: $68,700
  • 20 years or more of experience: $73,700

For a school psychologist with a Psy.D. degree, the average salary is $68,900.

The American Psychological Association reports that doctoral-level school psychologists earn a median salary of $77,000, while those with a master’s degree earn $61,000. (APA.org)

Ziprecruiter.com reports the average salary for all Psy.D. holders is $101,200, with a range between $37,000 and $152,500. (Ziprecruiter.com). Most in the field earn a salary between $75,500 and $129,500.

Favorable Lifestyle

Most Psy.D. in School Psychology graduates work in primary or secondary schools on a nine or 10 month calendar year. So, being employed as a school psychologist means being off as much as two months in the summer, plus spring and holiday breaks.

While there is some variation in the hours that school psychologists work, many follow the typical school day. The workday of most school psychologists ends around three or four pm. This schedule is very helpful for psychologists who have families.

School Psychologists Have a Strong Impact on Students

Studies show that school psychologists with a post-graduate degree have a positive, significant impact on the well-being of students, youth, and families. The National Association of School Psychologists finds that school psychologists offer expertise in  mental health, behavior, and learning to help students and youth to have higher levels of success in academics, social environments, as well as emotionally and behaviorally. (NASPonline.org)

School psychologists offer many types of services that support individual students, teachers, families, classrooms and the entire school system. They also can work on efforts to prevent school problems before they start, in addition to working on problems when the arise.

Working in a school as a psychologist allows you to make changes from inside and establish strong, meaningful ties within the school community.

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Potential to Work in a Variety of Educational Environments

Most Psy.D. in School Psychology graduates work in public schools, with approximately 81% of them working in such environments. (NASPonline.org). However, it is becoming more common for school psychologists to work in preschools, district offices, private schools, universities, mental health centers in schools, community-based treatment centers, residential clinics and hospitals, and even in private practice.

School psychological services will vary based on the school, state, and district. Depending on where you work, you could focus on counseling, assessment, consultation, crisis preparedness and response, student behavior support, or crisis preparedness.